Women are turning down extra casual work that could help financially in the lead up to Christmas because they are worried about getting booted off Newstart, then are suffering in the long run when employers stop offering them shifts.
The struggles of working women - especially those who are trying to rebuild after being victims of violence - have been addressed by Women's Health Goulburn North East during a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into the sustainable employment for disadvantaged jobseekers.
Chief executive Amanda Kelly described some of the ways women in the North East are disadvantaged.
She said it was fantastic some of the organisation's clients had casual work, but there were barriers to keeping the jobs.
"People are willing to work, but are finding it difficult," she said.
"If the casual work increases too much, they lose their Newstart - getting back onto Newstart is very difficult.
"So they have casual work, it is coming up to Christmas and their employers might want to increase their casual work, but they cannot do it because they will lose their Newstart and they are too afraid that there might be a gap between getting onto it again.
"So they turn down the casual work and therefore they are not offered more casual work."
Ms Kelly said the perception of women over 50 years old was that were "invisible and unemployable" and noted there was not a great range of roles for them.
"Women who have been out of work because they have been caring for children or family are wanting to contribute, wanting to get in ... but then also maybe feel inadequate around that and feel that they do not have anything to offer," she said.
The Parliament's economy and infrastructure committee members were particularly interested in WHGNE's no-interest loan scheme, which can loan women on low incomes up to $1500 and those experiencing or exiting family violence up to $2000.
NILS and economic empowerment worker Jane Gehrig said more than 30 per cent of loans approved over the past year were for car-related items.
"That has been for us an increase - such things as mechanical repairs, tyres and rego. When you are not in the city, these are things that are just so needed out here," she said.
"Generally if women can have a car, they will try and keep the car on the road no matter what and no matter how old it is."
Wendouree MP Juliana Addison described the scheme as "amazing".
"It could be a real lifeline for many people and keep them in a home rather than being homeless," she said.
The committee is due to table its report in the inquiry to Parliament by June next year.